School locker search plan in works
Student misconduct code changes would delete protection under privacy law
STORY SUMMARY »
Students' lockers would no longer be protected from public school searches under rules being revised by the state Department of Education to improve safety at campuses.
Education officials yesterday officially began discussing changes to the student misconduct code, also known as Chapter 19.
The state Board of Education is considering proposed changes* to school rules at a meeting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Queen Liliuokalani Building, Room 404.
One of the changes would let administrators inspect students' lockers.
The Board of Education took up a draft with the planned revisions at a meeting yesterday, but members deferred action on the 40-page document after some two hours of debate.
The proposal would delete a section of the code that currently prevents school administrators from looking inside students' lockers because of privacy laws.
The new language says lockers "are subject to opening and inspection by school officials at any time with or without reason or cause."
According to the draft, Chapter 19, which was last modified in 2001, also would add a definition for cyberbullying, forgery and hazing and prohibit gadgets like laser pen pointers, iPods and DVD players, as well as gang paraphernalia, on school grounds.
If the changes are passed by the school board, the state would still need to hold public hearings on the new code, and Gov. Linda Lingle would have to sign it before it could take effect.
FULL STORY »
Lockers would be fair game during school searches under a proposal being considered by education officials.
The state Department of Education made public yesterday proposed revisions to the student misconduct code, also known as Chapter 19.
The code, which has been untouched since 2001, needs to be updated to include definitions for cyberbullying, forgery and hazing and to prohibit, in writing, gadgets like laser pen pointers, iPods and DVD players, as well as gang paraphernalia, on school grounds.
Any changes to the code would be subject to approval by the Board of Education, public hearings and Gov. Linda Lingle's signature.
The school board deferred a vote on the planned revisions yesterday after members spent two hours going over a 40-page draft line by line. They will continue debate on the issue at a meeting on Thursday.
But most members seemed supportive of a law change that would let school officials inspect students' lockers for drugs, guns and other illegal items to ensure campus safety,
"You don't have the same rights when you enter the school," said board member Denise Matsumoto. "It's just like at the airport."
Currently, school searches are OK only in common areas like cafeterias, gymnasiums and bushes -- with students, lockers, backpacks, purses and vehicles being off-limits.
Although he also backed access to lockers, member Breene Harimoto said the board should consider legal implications when voting on the new code.
"In general, I favor it. I think it's a good thing because if anything on school property could be harmful, we should be able to see it," he said. "But I'm not really up to speed on the legal issues."
Deputy Schools Superintendent Clayton Fujie said the idea to allow checks of students' lockers came from principals who responded to a Department of Education survey.
Another rule being considered would allow disciplinary action against a student to "be carried over to the next school year" even if the offense happened in the last days of the spring semester.
Since at least January, the department has been working with the state Attorney General's Office in gathering input from schools and rewording Chapter 19 with suggestions, Fujie said.
"Our school administrators felt that there's things in the lockers that could be contraband or could be construed as maybe drugs," he said.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
» At its regular meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m., the state Board of Education will take public testimony on a proposal to allow searches of students' lockers. Members will not vote on the issue because it is still being discussed by a board committee. An article yesterday was not clear on that.